The No News News Media

by Walter Brasch

There was a lot of news this past week.

Some of it was even reported by the news media.

First, there was a football player from Notre Dame who either did or didn’t know that his girlfriend was or wasn’t real, but died sometime during the season. Six column headlines for several days announced the fraud. Network news and talk show hosts rehashed it almost daily.

Two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong admitted he was a dope. Or maybe he just took dope. The news media kept sending urgent flashes all week of what he was going to tell Oprah. And then he told Oprah, and now we’ll be reading stories about it until Schwinn adds a jet engine to a 3-speed.

Subway is accused of making foot-long hoagies that are 11 inches, a problem that the executives wisely didn’t say was due to shrinkage in cold weather. The media seized this major fraud and, ignoring anything Congress or Wall Street was doing, slathered layers of hype on a story that should have died with three paragraphs in one day.

Of course, there was the inauguration. That became another way for bloviators and pretend-journalists to push their own agendas. They told us how unpopular this President is-attendance was way down from the first inauguration. Only 500,000 attended.  They didn’t tell us that second inaugurations always have much fewer people watching them in person than first inaugurations. And, that figure of 500,000? A little short of the actual number of one million. They said the inauguration was over-long and overpriced, although most of it was paid for by private donations. Something they didn’t mention was that the costs and day’s activities were about the same as for the previous president, and most presidents of the latter 20th century-Democrat or Republican.

Some of these pundits suggested that the President didn’t have a mandate, although he easily won by more than five million votes, and a near landslide in the Electoral College. A few of the more extreme even suggested he had stolen the election-how else could he have won over the nice businessman who bought and sold companies and helped improve the economy of Switzerland and the Canary Islands?

For the rest of the networks, the focus was on a constant blather of what would Michelle Obama be wearing. Whose dress? Whose gloves? This, of course, was mixed into all kinds of gushes and comments about her new ‘do. You know, the one that had bangs. The day after the inauguration, the media was all over the story of the BeyoncĂ© kerfuffle. Did she or didn’t she lip synch the National Anthem? Truly great news coverage there.

Hillary Clinton testified before the Congressional Inquisition of Televised Republicans trying to make their bones to either enhance their own chances for re-election or to block what they think may be her plan to run for the presidency in 2016. This would be some of the same people who thought she was faking a concussion to avoid testifying in the first place.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled for Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 2-10 was cancelled this past week. The Expo is the largest in North America, but the organizers decided that in the wake of the Newtown murders, they would put a temporary moratorium on the sale of military-style assault weapons because they believed “the presence of MSRs [military style rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.” Only a dozen or so of the 1,200 vendors were affected; most were selling clothes, rifles, turkey calls, tents, and anything related to outdoor sports. But, one by one vendors, the media, and dozens of celebrities-all with NRA encouragement and support-decided not to attend, somehow believing that a hunting and fishing exhibition that didn’t allow the purchase of assault weapons was somehow anti-American and gave a message that those who did attend were opposed to the Second Amendment. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that the cancellation led to a loss of $43 million in the local economy.

More than 32,000 will die from gun violence by the end of the year, according to the Brady Center. This past week, 78 Americans, including four pre-teens, died from gun violence. And, during this past week, as has been the case for hundreds of previous weeks, the NRA leadership, with the egos of a gang of schoolboys who overdosed on testosterone, continue to defy all attempts to reach sensible solutions to allow the purchase of guns, yet reduce the violence.

A 38-year-old sergeant died from wounds received near Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, but he became a lower priority less than a year later. The Bush-Cheney administration almost abandoned the war in Afghanistan and turned to Iraq. More than 7,600 American and allied soldiers were killed, and more than 50,000 wounded in both wars. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, ended the war in Iraq and is months from ending the one in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who numerous times promised to reign in the abuse of the filibuster that blocked any meaningful legislation or presidential appointments, turned wimp this past week. He and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who once vowed his top priority was solely to prevent Barack Obama from serving a second term, may have been last seen hugging, kissing, and preparing to be married in Massachusetts.

This past week, the stock market hit new records, and it looks President Obama may receive some of the credit for helping to stop the Great Recession, something that upsets Republicans, delights Democrats, and has no meaning to anyone homeless or unemployed.

Yes, there was a lot of news this past week. Some of it may some day actually be reported.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster. It is available from www.greeleyandstone.com at a pre-publication discount.]

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News & Notes January 3, 2013

This is our first News and Notes of 2013.  I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

The 113th Congress was sworn in today and new Pennsylvania members Keith Rothfus and Matt Cartwright were sworn in to office.  The previous Congress was the most ineffectual in history and this one bears a striking resemblance.

Former State Rep. Joe Brennan is headed to jail for DUI and wife beating.  A judge sentenced him to between 90 days and 2 years.  He lost his seat over the incident and may as well use the time to dry out.  He’s had an obvious drinking problem for some time.

Marriage equality began in Maryland on the first and many couples began hitching up.  You can now get legally wed in Delaware, Maryland, New York and DC but not in Pennsylvania.

Brian Sims, the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the state legislature was sworn into office Tuesday.  Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has already submitted his perennial bill outlawing marriage equality.

The first bill introduced in Congress wasn’t about gun control, immigration reform, renewing the lapsed Violence Against Women Act, a farm bill or Hurricane Sandy Relief.  It was Rep. Bachmann’s bill to repeal Obamacare.  Republicans have already wasted 32 votes on this windmill tilting.

Hillary Clinton was discharged from a hospital after four days of treatment for a blood clot.  This apparently was the result of the non-existent (according to Faux News) concussion she faked in order to avoid testifying to Congress about Benghazi.  Yes, she faked a life threatening situation just to avoid a few ridiculous witch hunt queries.  Fox should be ashamed for accusing her of faking such a serious injury (said from someone who suffered six moderate to severe concussions).

As I mentioned above the Violence Against Women Act expired with the new year.  Now women lack basic legal protections because Republicans didn’t believe women in same sex relationships, Native American women and others also deserved protection.  Shame.

I’d like to play poker with Barack Obama.  The man folds even when holding all the aces.  After going over the fiscal cliff Republicans faced all of the blame because the country understood they were holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage for continued cuts for the richest 1%.  No GOP Congressman or Senator with any sanity was going to risk being labeled this way (though some did vote against the final bill and will be).  The President held all the cards and still completed a bad deal.  Included are tax breaks for Goldman Sachs (surprise, surprise), NASCAR and other special interests.

Trans Ocean, one of the corporations responsible for the Gulf oil spill disaster paid a federal fine of $1.4 billion today.  Eleven workers died due to its negligence.  This was a drop in the bucket for a multi-national company.  If corporations are legally persons they should have gotten the death penalty for killing 11 workers.

A Swiss bank pled guilty to aiding the tax evasion efforts of rich Americans.  Wegelin & Co. hid more than $1.2 billion from the IRS and paid a fine of $74 million.  Just another cost of doing business.

Former UFCW Local 1776 head Wendell Young III passed away this week.  Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons delivered this speech defending our privacy rights:

The FISA Act passed.

The 9 craziest things Fox News said last year according to one source.  Only 9???

News & Notes July 1, 2010

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a budget yesterday and sent it to Gov. Rendell.  This marks the first time in Ed’s eight years as Governor that the state passed a budget on time.  Last year, as you’ll recall, the process took 101 days and the budget still wasn’t balanced.  Neither is this one and it cuts health care services and many other critical programs but leaves the massive corporate tax loophole.  I actually finally agree with Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Lunatic Fringe) on something which is scary.  He protested the passage because the vote violated one of the few reforms we’ve seen in recent years:  the requirement that all bills wait 24 hours so the people can examine them online.  Democrats pushed this through by voting to suspend the rule.  Since the annual budget is the most important bill passed every year there must be a new rule stating the rules cannot be suspended on any tax or spending bill.

DEP’s budget was cut yet again (this time by 9%) just as gas wells begin exploding and energy companies are aggressively exploring the Marcellus Shale region.  Parks, DCNR and state forests (a 31% reduction) were also gutted.  A large amount of gas drilling will be in state forests…

Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is being investigated by an Allegheny County grand jury for using tax dollars and State Senate staffers to run her campaign for our highest court.  Her sister, Sen. Jane Orie ran the Supreme Court campaign using her state offices and staff.  I’ve written and alluded to other illegalities surrounding that corrupt campaign for two years.  I hope this grand jury also investigates those allegations.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is refusing to return $3,000 he accepted from Anadarko Petroleum which is part owner of the BP well polluting the Gulf of Mexico.  The Attorney General is also continuing to refuse to comply with Open Records requests from Keystone Progress about his involvement in the political lawsuits against health care reform.  The contribution from Anadarko is disturbing because of energy companies interests in gas drilling here.  Corbett is taking (along with just about everyone else) contributions from these drilling companies.  He is taking more gas money than anyone so far.

The remains of the late Sen. Robert Byrd will lie in repose in the Senate chamber today before his funeral in West Virginia tomorrow.  Both the President and Vice President will attend the services.

The House passed a weak financial regulatory reform bill yesterday.  The bill was gutted to get enough Republican votes for passage.  Why is it we’re continuing to tolerate the GOP’s constant filibustering with no political payback?  The senate has become dysfunctional and every bill passed is hardly worth the paper it is printed upon because of this obstruction.  Democrats refused to do the same thing to Bush Administration bills because of the political evisceration to which they were subjected if they weakened them.  Spineless Dems strike again.

Republicans in Washington keep blocking both the extension of unemployment benefits and a jobs bill.  They are saying the unemployed will be forced to go out and find jobs when their benefits run out.  Where are these jobs, Mars?  Ask anyone in the job market and you’ll hear there are no jobs.  Its time for the GOP to escape the rabbit hole and return tot he real world.

With all the crises entangling the President one area which has been calm is foreign affairs.  Hillary Clinton is quietly doing a crack up job as Secretary of State.

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of DailyKos is suing Research 2000 for alleged fraudulent polling done for the blog.  Markos and I have had our disagreements (the 2006 PA Senate election) but I commend him for being public about this issue.  He paid the polling firm to conduct polls and they refused to ever provide him with the raw data used for analysis.  Experts like Kos need the raw data to fully evaluate such polling and the firm’s refusal to provide it, as agreed upon, sent red flags which resulted in a lawsuit.  This will be interesting to follow.  Kos could have kept all this hush hush but decided to make his own dirty laundry public in a very honest manner.

I fly home tomorrow so blogging may be minimal.  Today I’ll be in Taos, New Mexico.  Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.

Obama: If not Hillary for VP, Pick Joe Biden!

Obama mentioned to press that the VP decision will come out this week. He has told them that he is focusing on three candidates, Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine and Joe Biden. Now, to me, as a progressive, that is not good news. We are looking at the need to consolidate all Democrats, including the white, older, female voters that are instrumental and are holding out right now. I know Obama likes the ex-civil rights attorney/ex-missionary (which is great!…refreshing, even)Virginia governor Tim Kaine and thinking seriously about ex-Indiana governor centrist Evan Bayh- but he must understand, if Obama is going to bring all Democrats together without Hillary, pick Sen. Joe Biden.

Joe Biden is a straight-shooting, tough-talking, experienced man who has appeal with the white, blue-collar independents that are resistant to the Illinois senator and ex-community organizer. Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can challenge McBush on his monopoly on the national security issue with his foreign policy credentials. Sen. Biden can drive through the true message of McBush’s intent on keeping us stuck in Iraq for years and expose how McSame is Bush’s 3rd term. He would also have a commanding voice to push back strongly against the Rethugican smear machine when it reaches its most aggressive and most atrocious closer to November. Biden is also very passionate-sounding, which can help motivate progressives to go out and get those voters to the polls and get new people registered. I also believe that Joe Biden would support the emotional passion of the message of hope and change. Obama better consider this more thoroughly; he cannot risk throwing in a lukewarm candidate like Evan Bayh, who does not support his message, or Tim Kaine, who does not have the power to motivate the progressive base or drive independents into the ‘change’ column. I hope Obama takes these next few days to consider his options more carefully, especially if those options don’t include a Hillary or a Clinton in them. Please, I hope he understands this: Don’t pick Bayh, pick Bi-den.

Unity, or Lack Thereof

There remains great disunity in the Democratic Party as we enter the crucial Fall campaign season.  Everyone I’ve gone lately I hear the same thing about Hillary Clinton supporters:  they aren’t backing Barack Obama.  I see it locally, I see it regionally and national polls bear out the fact it’s a national problem.

Barack Obama cannot win without a unified effort from all Democrats in addition to the independent and Republicans he has attracted.  He and McCain are neck and neck in polls and one must wonder how that can be possible after eight failed years of Republican mismanagement.  The answer is Hillary.

Sen. Clinton ran a vaunted campaign and garnered 18 million votes.  She has dedicated and loyal followers who aren’t willing to support anyone else.  Barack Obama is paying the price for a campaign which has focused only on himself and alienated many other Democrats.  One aspect of this is the death of the coordinated campaigns.  The Obama campaign is opening and staffing only their own campaign offices leaving everyone down ticket on their own.

That isn’t good for unity.  Realizing that in the past these coordinated campaign efforts were coordinated in name only they did save Congressional candidates some overhead.  Too often all the down ticket races wound up subordinate tot he top of the ticket (many outright ignored) there still were shared resources.  No more.

Worse, Clinton Democrats remain undecided for November 4th.  The national convention next week is critical to bringing the Party together, giving closure to the millions of Hillary supporters and showing them why they need to transfer their allegiance to Obama.

Speaking for myself I am not supporting Barack Obama, for many reasons.  Am I typical?  No.  Each of us have our own reasons for staying away from the Illinois Senator.  We all need to be placated however and, so far, the Obama campaign has failed miserably at reaching out.  They keep shooting themselves in the foot if my experience is typical.  Good for them they’re the gang that can’t shoot straight.

I’m so disgusted with the Democratic Party I’m planning on leaving it as soon as that’s possible (legal entanglements).  I plan on becoming a non affiliated voter so no one can again give me legal trouble for what I write on the blog.  I will then be able to opine completely independently and give you my honest opinions on what is happening in Pennsylvania, who to support and why and who is screwing you.  To a great degree the Democratic Party has prevented that.  A Pennsylvania Democratic Party lawyer actually gave professional advice last year that said I could not support the Democrat of my choice in a Party primary.  That legal opinion resulted in me incurring $3500 in legal bills and being suspended as an elected Committee man.

This year an elected Democratic Party Committee woman shut down my blog at Typepad through an act of fraud against me.  When I finally get to change my voter registration and leave the Democratic Party I’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Unity in the Democratic Party is non existent and this is the primary aspect of the convention I’ll be watching next week.  How are the Obama people planning on bringing us together and is it even possible?

Convention Catharsis

There’s debate whether Hillary Clinton should be nominated at the Democratic National Convention and a roll call taken of the votes.  She says doing so would be a catharsis and Barack Obama is afraid of catharsis according to his spokespeople.

I’d like to see Hillary nominated and a state by state roll call.  The actual roll call is one of the most interesting parts of any convention and allows each state some face time.

More so, I think Sen. Clinton earned this salutation.  Fighting for over a year on the campaign trail and winning many state primaries, including Pennsylvania, she deserves her spot in the sun.  She raised well over $100 million and garnered 18 million votes.  The Democratic Party alienates those 18 million voters at its peril.

This was a landmark campaign and it deserves due recognition in Denver.

Hillary To Suspend Campaign

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will suspend her presidential campaign following her opponent’s clinching of enough delegates to gain the nomination.  The outcome of the Rules Committee meeting last Saturday was the death knell.

Clinton’s only real chance the past six weeks was some sort of meltdown by Sen. Obama.  While Rev. Wright and his cohorts did all possible to achieve that goal for Hillary it wasn’t successful.  

I’d like to salute Mrs. Clinton for a good campaign, empowering millions of women and showing young women they too can grow up and be anything they want, even President.  Working with the Clinton was a pleasure, they were professional and respectful.  They understood the role of bloggers and immediately provided credentials, something I and others had to fight for from the Obama campaign.

I received an email from Peter Daou, Hillary’s online coordinator late last night.  He and Emily Lockwood were my media contacts on this campaign.  He says:

“Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, DC to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity. This event will be held on Saturday to accommodate more of Senator Clinton’s supporters who want to attend.”

Details will be forthcoming which means even bloggers will be given access if we choose to attend.  He also added a personal note which is greatly appreciated:

“I’d also like to express my gratitude to each of you for hearing me out and sharing your thoughts with me during the two years that I’ve been with Hillary. Each of you, no matter who you’ve supported in this campaign, is a critical part of the national conversation and your voice helps advance progressive ideals and values.

If anything is clear this cycle, it’s the immense power of the Internet to mobilize voters and transform elections. I’ve been privileged to work with an amazingly creative and innovative web team here at the Clinton campaign. And I also believe that tremendous credit should go to the Obama team for their exceptional use of the medium. I’ve had the honor of representing Hillary online since 2006 and in the immediate future, I’ll continue to work with the online community on her behalf.”

This is the kind of class I saw throughout the Clinton campaign and it was a stark contrast from the thuggishness I saw from their opponent’s.  Matt Lehrich, my media contact on the Obama campaign, was great to work with but he also completely ignored my notifications that the Obama website was stealing my blog content.  They couldn’t care less about plagiarism and copyright violations and that should be of great concern.  I’ve turned those violations over to an attorney because they fell on deaf ears in Chicago.

2,118

2,118 is the magic number now for clinching the Democratic nomination.  The compromises on Florida and Michigan, styled to try and avoid more chaos in 2012, make Obama the likely nominee as super delegates fulfill their roles and commit to him after today’s final primaries.

It’s been a long and winding road as The Beatles might say.  Beginning in Iowa and traveling to New Hanpshire, Nevada and South Carolina (oops, I shouldn’t count Iowa and Nevada since those are caucuses and the Clinton campaign doesn’t count caucuses as having voted) we have finally found oursleves on June 3rd and the end of the process.  

I’m not happy with the nominee but that isn’t new.  I cannot remember the last time I was excited about the Democratic nominee.  Hmmm, I don’t recall EVER being excited excited about the Democratic nominee for President now that I think about it so there actually i snothing new here.

I have serious doubts about Obama.  This recent revelation about Michelle’s use of the racist term Whitey is going to alienate more blue collar working Dems and he simply strikes me as a phony.  What I heard coming from his mouth at events was completely opposite what I saw on the ground in his campaign.  I heard him pandering to voters extensively making promises he cannot keep.

To be honest, at this point I’ll  support an African American American for President and a woman to boot.  Her name is Cynthia McKinney.  Go ahead and slash my tires again and try and shut down my blog again, steal my written material without permission or attribution and see how that persuades me to support your guy.  I have news for the Democrats:  that is no way to win an election.